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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 15:26 GMT
Why I love the Swedish health system
Dr Hans Berglund, of the Karolinska University Hospital
Dr Berglund has worked as a doctor in three continents
After working as a doctor in three continents, Stockholm cardiologist Dr Hans Berglund is in the perfect position to judge the state of Swedish health care.

Dr Berglund has been working as a doctor for 30 years across Europe, in Saudi Arabia and the US.

The Karolinska University Hospital consultant said: "One of the wonderful things for me is that in Sweden a good level of health care is available to all.

"It does not depend on what insurance scheme you have as it does in the UK, and you do not have a huge private insurance system.

"No matter where you are and who you are, in Sweden you have access to the care that is available to the wealthiest."

I have noticed that there is more pressure to get people in and out of hospital quickly and that is not always best for patients
Dr Hans Berglund, of the Karolinska University Hospital

But Dr Berglund said his Swedish counterparts have certain advantages over other countries that have also adopted the social democratic model.

"There is a level of trust in Sweden that I do not think exists elsewhere.

"I think in comparison to many countries, Swedish hospital doctors spend more time talking to their patients about their treatment and what the options are.

"When I was in Saudi Arabia a colleague said the group of Swedish doctors respected their patients, and this was not always the case with others.

"That makes me proud. I suppose it is partly a cultural thing. We are an open society and can admit mistakes. We do not have the compensation culture there is in the US and has started to emerge in other countries such as Britain."


But Dr Berglund admits he has some reservations about the future.

Sweden currently spends just over 9% of its GDP on health care - a figure which has remained largely constant for the last 20 years, leaving the Scandinavian country with one of the best funded health systems in the world.

However, Sweden has the highest proportion of over 80s in Europe and will face unprecedented demands on its health and social care systems in coming years.

"In the 1980s there used to be money for everything. Now we are more limited and it does not look like we will be getting any more.

"I have noticed that there is more pressure to get people in and out of hospital quickly and that is not always best for patients.

"I think we have reached a turning point. It is a concern."

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